The Vancouver Law Courts. (Black Press Media file)

The Vancouver Law Courts. (Black Press Media file)

B.C. RCMP officer suing the force over alleged harassment and malicious prosecution

Jeffrey Van Woerden was acquitted of assaulting a known gang member during an arrest

RCMP officer Jeffrey Van Woerden says his career first started to go sideways nine years ago when he issued a violation ticket to the wife of a retired Mountie.

He claims that’s when his once successful career was sabotaged, first with improper pressure to cancel the ticket, which was followed by ongoing harassment and later a “malicious prosecution” followed by internal disciplinary proceedings.

Van Woerden filed a lawsuit against the RCMP in civil court in Vancouver on April 19 claiming a long list of damages, including post-traumatic stress disorder, loss of income, security costs, mental distress, and legal fees.

While Van Woerden points to the motor vehicle ticket as the start of his harassment within the RCMP, it was his arrest of known gang member and violent offender James Vidal in 2013 that really got him into hot water.

It was Nov. 17, 2013, when Van Woerden pulled over a taxi carrying Vidal and his girlfriend as part of an impaired driving check stop. What occurred next was the subject of dispute for six years, with Van Woerden claiming he was assaulted by Vidal, and Vidal claiming he was assaulted by Van Woerden.

“Vidal physically resisted being placed under arrest, verbally and physically assaulting the Plaintiff (Van Woerden) in the process,” according to Van Woerden’s civil claim, which is technically against the Attorney General of Canada and the B.C. Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

Vidal was charged with assault of a police officer and resisting arrest. But at trial, Van Woerden claims the RCMP dropped the ball regarding video evidence shot by Vidal’s girlfriend. Eventually, the were charges dropped. In dismissing the charges, the judge went so far as to say Van Woerden’s evidence was unreliable, non-credible and his actions “were not lawful.”

Van Woerden’s civil claim says the RCMP then had the video enhanced and the police force “maliciously and/or negligently” also concluded he acted illegally. Van Woerden was charged with assault with a weapon, assault causing bodily harm, and perjury.

“The allegations demonstrate conduct that is not in keeping of my expectations for our members,” RCMP Supt. Deanne Burleigh, officer in charge of the Upper Fraser Valley Regional Detachment said at that time. “Const. Van Woerden will now have an opportunity to answer to these allegations in court.”

In February 2019, Van Woerden was acquitted on all counts in BC Supreme Court.

In his civil claim, Van Woerden says the RCMP should have known that Vidal had been convicted of serious crimes and he had a reputation for violence, including resisting arrest and should have taken that into account. He said Vidal’s photo was posted on the prolific offender board at the detachment listing him as armed and dangerous, violent and an escape risk, and physically described as 5’11” and 345 pounds.

In an unrelated incident, Vidal was murdered in a hail of bullets just 18 days after Van Woerden’s acquittal. No one has been charged in that homicide.

READ MORE: B.C. Mountie acquitted of 2013 assault of a man murdered Sunday in Chilliwack

READ MORE: IHIT identify Chilliwack homicide victim as James Vidal

A statement about the civil claim issued by Van Woerden’s lawyer Michelle Tribe said he now is “merely seeking to reinstate his life back to the point it would have been minus harassment and wrongful prosecution by the RCMP.”

The statement said the events of the last 7.5 years have had a significant impact on Van Woerden and his family, which has included threats made against him along with the allegations made by the RCMP.

“Ultimately, the Van Woerdens have lost their dream home, their community and Mr. Van Woerden’s career. They are in the process of trying to rebuild what they have lost.”

The RCMP has not yet filed a response.


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
editor@theprogress.com

@PeeJayAitch
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cariboo North MLA Coralee Oakes shared this photo of the binders and binders of letters and paperwork she’s received on area roads in the past few years. (Submitted photo)
Cariboo MLAs call on province to fix region’s roads

Minister Rob Fleming said more resources were on the way to the region

Cariboo-Prince George MP Todd Doherty advises Conservative leader Erin O’Toole on mental health and wellness. (House of Commons Photography)
Cariboo-Prince George MP calling for 1-year deadline to establish 3-digit suicide hotline

Todd Doherty’s motion calling for 9-8-8 as a national hotline passed unanimously in December

CGL’s graphic of the month showing planned activity for summer. (CGL update/Lakes District News)
Coastal GasLink reaches 692 km pipe delivery milestone

2 new COVID cases linked with pipeline accomodations

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The dash cam footage, taken May 7 at 8:18 a.m. belonged to the driver of a southbound vehicle that recently travelled out of the tunnel. (Reddit/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Dash cam captures dramatic rollover crash on Highway 99

Only one person sustained injuries from the collision, says B.C. Ambulance Services

Chevy stranded on a ledge above a rocky canyon at Mimi Falls near Logan Lake, April 28, 2021. (Photo credit: Margot Wikjord)
Police officer and fire chief team up in risky rescue of stranded dog near Logan Lake

Chevy, a rescue dog, needed rescuing again after getting stuck on a ledge above rocky canyon

Police were on the scene of a fatal shooting in Abbotsford. (Black Press Media files)
B.C. government to give more than $8 million for programs to curb gang violence

221 not-for-profit projects led by local governments and school districts among others will receive a one-time grant

Gord Judson steers his log truck down a forest service road, using two-way radio and call signals to mark his position for oncoming traffic. (B.C. Forest Safety Council)
Planning some B.C. wilderness fishing? Don’t catch a log truck

Remote recreation areas bracing for heavy pandemic pressure

Most Read